Womanifesto Mag 002

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Womanifesto [ WOOM-MAN-UH-FES-TOH ]

A Womanifesto is a public statement affirmed in love and reaffirmed in justice. It is outrageous, audacious, and courageous behavior in the face of the adversity that begs to limit us. It is a community of people of all races, creeds, sexualities, genders, and abilities who are committed to the survival and wholeness of all people. They are people who are able to love not in spite of, but because of differences. As a puddle is to steam as to clouds as to rain, a Womanifesto has many evolutions and yet holds integrity. It is the spark to a revolution that finds art in everything and starts in ones heart and ends in action.

EDITOR'S LETTER When I look in the mirror I acknowledge that my face is not my own. It is the culmination of features from people who's births go back hundreds of years. My eyes, lips, and beauty mark are borrowed from someone else who wore it well. And as I continue on my womanist journey, I've learned that I can only move forward by looking back. The curve of my back is not weighed down with generational trauma but held up with my ancestors hands. And the length of my fingers inherited by my grandparents are not a burden, but a gift that will be used to amplify black and brown voices. This issue seeks to explore families through a kaleidoscope, hence "I am because they are." Everything from the way we observe ourselves, to the businesses and art we create, has been impacted by our family, biological or otherwise. Thank you for sharing your time with the second issue of Womanifesto Magazine.

Alyssa Cuffie @alWHYssa @WomanifestoMag




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pg 50 what's mine? what's mine? what's mine?

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CONTRIBUTORS Ifeanyi Elswith /Anieya Cauthen /Key Scott /Robert McDowell /Oguguam Ugwuanyi /Xavier Stamps /Melyssa Guzman /Kyla May /Taylor Thomas

/Xaviera Wood /Zahria Tucker /Alyssa Cuffie







"In Search of Our Mothers' Garden" is an anthology of prose by Alice Walker that centers around her understanding of womanism. I have reinterpreted this concept and shared excerpts from interviews with my six grandmothers. My goal was to learn about their lives before they were my grandmother or even a mother at all. They are more than the title granted to them through mothering and I sought to discover who that was.


AUGUSTENE COTTON STEVENS Do you have a middle name? No. Now why you gone ask me my whole name and then turn around and ask if I have a middle name? What were your parents like? My mama did more raising us than my dad. He divorced us when I was nine. So I was with my mama and there were five kids under me and we were like stair steps. That was a process in training. But I can say today my momma is my hero. If I hadn't seen the flaws, my kids would not be who and what they are today. Thank you mom. What did you want to be when you grew up? A draftsman. A what? I wanted to design buildings. When I couldn't do that I wanted to be a machine operator. But then I ended up in the hospital and I was told the work was too heavy for me. I couldn't be lifting oil and stuff. I got away from that and since mama always wanted me to be a nurse and I became a CNA. While I was trying to find a place in life, I ended up being a CNA all my life because that's the only thing I could get. So I just stayed in it.



How old were you when you left home? Seventeen. Seventeen? Wow. Where did you go from there? I got married and I came to Milwaukee. How did you guys meet? We grew up in the same community. We went to the same church and the same school. So how did you decide on Milwaukee? Well, he had an uncle living here that was working at the Milwaukee Railroad so he came here to get a job. Did you like it when you got the Milwaukee? Not necessarily. I hadn't been nowhere so... I had to get to get to like it or dislike it. What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a nurse. Did you become that? Somewhat. I worked in a nursing home in high school after I was married. I was here in Milwaukee. How long did you do that? Like ten years. Not at the same place though.


BRENDA JOYCE RAYBORN What was your favorite childhood memory? My favorite childhood memory was when my dad told me I better keep my head in a book because I'd never be a good farmer. When he told me that I thought that was the bomb. So what were your parents like? My dad had a wonderful sense of humor. He would laugh and joke about everything and everybody. My mother was strict- she was the disciplinarian but, my dad would always make sure we would do what we were supposed to do as far as going to school. In my community, with it being in the south, the question was never "are you going to college?" It was "what college are you going to?" The family down the street were Jackson State University people. My family was an Alcorn State University family. These all were HBCU's mind you. My sister went to Alcorn, and then all of us followed. What was college like for you? Girl! When I first went, my brothers had pledged and since I was their sister and so the ladies treated me alot to free chicken dinners because they were sweet on me. My sister in law now- we all went to school together. The whole time I was there my parents would come and tailgate. They would just have a trunk full of food and everybody would come by my parents car to eat. They were very supportive and would tailgate for homecoming and any home games. 16

ANNETTE VOSS What was your favorite childhood memory? When I visited my grandmother in Rockford, Illinois. All of my relatives lived on the same block. So you got to see everybody at once when you visited? Yeah my aunts house, and my uncles house were all on one block. We would have picnics and barbecues- there was always something going on. It was a little country setting but it was so nice and our uncles and aunts were always glad to see us. What was your family like? Very nice and very giving. They were always making stuff or cooking or opening up stores. It was always something. My uncles had garages where they had body shops? Do you think that influenced you to do what you do? You're very creative and are always making things. Yeah my mother was no sit down person. Any little thing that she could find, she would investigate it. She always wanted nice things so she always wanted to better her situation. She was never accepting her situation. She would buy things and make them new again, always creative.



On loss and heartbreak Being an adult means that you have to deal with the consequences whether good or bad. Some people lose what they can't deal with. When my husband died I thought I was gonna crack open. But I remembered that I had to live. Life goes on and I loved me. Sometimes when you're in love with someone and you care about them so much you tend to love that person more than you love yourself. Because you do more for that person. You consider that person more than you do yourself and when that person is taken from you, some people lose themselves. I was determined not to lose myself completely because I know I lost myself a little bit. A lot of times it takes years for some people to know who they are. To really know their truths. Some people still don't know it. Girl I done talked you to death! I could go on and on. It's okay. This has really resonated with me. Well let me tell you something else. When a person reveals themselves to you, believe it. You won't be able to go back and say "I didn't know." What you did is you settled and accepted it. You didn't accept it but you accepted it by continuing to be there. I can't tell you how many times I've said that what I preach, I should have preached it to myself. I just would turn around and say oh well. But when it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's a duck. Amen!


BONNIE LYNN WORTHINGTON CUFFIE What was it like being a mom? Very nice, it was an honor. Did you always want to be a mom? Yes I did. Do you want to be a mom someday? One day. Not now, but in the future. I was 28 years old when I had Sheldon. And 35/36 when I had Rachel. Sheldon was born 74' and Rachel was born in 1981 and I was married to Jonathan in 1969 at Cross Lutheran Church by Pastor Ellonger. E-L-L-O-N-G-E-R. So you guys were married for a while? We were married for fifteen years. And then we were separated. I filed the separation papers but we weren't divorced.


What is your favorite childhood memory? I remember in 1965, the year I graduated from highschool, they were planning this big march and everybody was supposed to meet up downtown on the steps of the courthouse. Everybody met in this park and they have the statues of those dogs that they had sicced on little kids. Anyone that was in that park was open to either being hit with the water from the firetruck and that water was hot it would sting you. That day is a day I will remember forever. They said at 12pm every high school student was supposed to leave the school and meet up at the park to march to the courthouse. Somehow the teachers got wind of it and they went to try to lock the doors to keep the kids in. The kids got wind of what the teachers plans were so they started leaving school thirty minutes earlier than planned. So they did not stop us from leaving school. When I got downtown, my cousin who was a big intricate part of the civil rights movement saw me and told me to go home. She said your mom and dad would not be able to handle you going to jail. And its no cakewalk, she had gone to jail twice for the movement. So I did what she asked me to do and went home. That evening, I saw all of these young people who were arrested. They had so many people arrested that they had nowhere to take them so they kept them in dorms at the fairgrounds. They were packed in there like sardines, there was not even standing room. It's just so surprising that they were willing to do that over and over again. That shaped my life into who I am and why I am.


RICEMAN a playlist by xavier stamps

Make the Road By Walking/ Menahan Street Band Place And Spaces/ Donald Byrd Hung Up/ Isaac Hayes Get Into The Part Life/ Little Beaver Could Heaven Ever Be Like This/

Idris Muhammed

Come Live With Me/ Dorothy Ashby Almeda/ Solange Freddie's Dead (Theme From Superfly)/ Curtis Mayfield Liquid Love/ Roy Ayers, Sylvia Cox Everybody Loves The Sunshine/ Roy Ayers Ubiquity Summer In The City/ Quincy Jones Sancastle/ Mujo, Jinsang, Hakone Searching/ Roy Ayers Footsteps In The Dark/ The Isley Brothers Zendaya/ Cozz, J Cole The Lady In My Life/ Michael Jackson This Place Hotel/ The Jacksons Black Qualls/ Thundercat, Steve Lacy, Steven Arrington Between The Sheets/ The Isley Brothers Brain Cells/ Chance the Rapper Don't Cry/ J Dilla


Visit www.RunWithMaud.com to help demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery


Photography by Anieya Cauthen anieyacauthen.com IG: anicauthen

Watching the blood leak from different potholes in your body left me lost and numb. Thinking my brother didn’t just leave me, right before my eyes, the person who swore he’d always be by my side through the thickest times and uncontrollable situations. Someone who swore they’d never lie to me but in their last moments lied to me. Holding you in my arms hearing those last breathes, hearing the blood fill your throat up and listening to you choke off it as you struggle to speak repeats in my brain like a looped track. You always cared about others always putting yourself last even in your last moments the lie you told me, “Don’t… Don’t worry… I’m good bro…. I’ll be fine…”

Every time I close my eyes, I see those moments, heart so filled with hate due to your fate I can’t stomach the constant reminder of you watching you take those last breath. The way we were attached at the hip you’d think we had the same mother and father, but the same struggle that took your life is the same struggle that made us brothers. A brotherhood bonded by struggle that blood couldn’t make up, my tears falling in your Bullet Wounds hit like salt on slave wounds. In that moment, October 21, 2016 at 7:50pm, when I closed your eyes holding you in my arms, you left me lost and numb.

Struggle Brother By Robert McDowell IG: @robbwayy


THE MIRROR; MY WORST ENEMY While still in the midst of her journey, Melyssa Guzman shares her experience with body dysmorphia and facing her nemisis; the mirror. by Melyssa Guzman For the past couple of years, or since the age of thirteen, I have been very obsessed with the image in the mirror. It goes hand in hand with my ongoing fitness journey. At twelve I gained an immense amount of weight. Food became a safe haven or a way to help what was happening at home. The comments began to filter in about how big I was getting, how I needed to lose weight, and the comments made by bullies became more vicious. Food was a way to ignore all those comments. Twelve-year-old me found control in the food I chose and the amounts I could eat. I eventually lost the majority of the weight by the time I was thirteen, but it wasn’t enough for me and for my family members. My self-esteem was very low. I wore sweatpants constantly, tried to hide my face, and never spoke out unless I had to. I broke down constantly over the way I looked. The mirror became my worst enemy. I would stand in front of the mirror and made a mental list of all the things I would change about myself. My nose, eyebrows, stomach, and my hair. If these parts of myself changed then I would become “pretty.” The boys I had crushes on would like me back and I could pursue my dream of being on television. The reflection I saw in the mirror probably is not the most accurate version of myself, but how do I see what others see? This mentality stuck with me through high school when I would compare myself to other girls. I wished so badly that I could be as pretty as them. I hated the way I looked in the mirror because to me all I saw was a blob of fat. My binging episodes were sporadic. I would eat when I was sad, happy, angry, and frustrated. The issue is that when I eat I lose control and it physically feels like I am not able to stop. I began to eat alone so that I can eat as much as I wanted to or I would sneak food when no one was around. I would feel ashamed, guilty, and disgusted with myself. My disordered eating habits and my obsession with the mirror started to get more intense throughout my high school years. My junior year I decided to change what I saw in the mirror by exercising and counting my calories.

I tried to run three miles on the treadmill every day as well as count every single calorie. I was to eating around 1,000 to 1,200 and burning 500 to 600 calories on the treadmill. I lost about fifteen pounds and I noticed the difference in my clothes, the way boys looked at me, and the compliments my family was giving me. But when I looked in the mirror I still saw this fat girl that was not good enough. The mirror screamed “YOU ARE STILL TOO FAT” and I was devasted when I could not see the progress. The mental list continued: 1. Nose job 2. Lose 40 pounds 3. Get my eyebrows done 4. Get my breasts lifted After I got all of those things done then I would beautiful. Fast forward to now and I still have my mental checklist which is a bit longer. 1. Rhinoplasty 2. Liposuction 3. Breast lift 4. Lip fillers and jaw fillers 5. Canthoplasty. I have pictures of myself throughout my third or fourth, I lost count, fitness journey where there is a difference, but it is not enough. There is still too much fat in the mirror. I don’t wear spaghetti straps or shirts that show my arms, I don’t go to the beach, and I hate fitting rooms. I still have episodes where I break down and cry because I am not where I physically want to be or I still too fat. Body dysmorphia is a mental health disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can't be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is still a struggle of mine along with my eating habits. I struggle every day, but I hope one day I can be at peace with the reflection in the mirror. If you are struggling with an eating disorder please call the National Eating Disorder Association Hotline: (800) 931-2237 Melyssa Guzman melyguzman1012.com IG: @melyssa.1997


Photography by Oguguam Ugwaunyi oguguam.me IG: @oguguam

I remember those times I cried and kept things from my family. I felt like no one had my back and I was stuck but I hadn’t realized that the love of my family always ran deep and embraced me. Now that I’m older, family means EVERYTHING to me. The family fun days, the movie nights at Nana’s house and everything else are my cherished memories. With them I feel happy, I always feel supported and most importantly I feel loved. Sometimes I sit back and wonder how God could bless me with such an amazing family. The ride or die family, that I can share a laugh with, cry with, and even sometimes just be wild. Like any family we’ve had some bad days too but it never stopped us from coming together. Nothing can tear us apart and I know I have absolutely everything because I have them. By Kyla May IG: @arckyive 37

By Ifeanyi Elsworth Coleman IG: @ifeanyielswith I can do anything if I put my mind to it I can soar beyond the sears tower Every choice you make determines your power To move you forward or thrust you backwards It’s up to you to make it happen, Watch Netflix or write a verse You tell me which comes first? This journey of self-love is super hard To push myself and nowhere to start Every rhyme is abc But this is the beginning You see? How I grow into a stinging humble bee, How I warm you with my positivity? I am a light raging queen My soul is made of everything. I am a frail sheer of being My purpose leaves me wondering. Why was I made with holes? Who was it that poked them through? Why is it so heavy to lift a finger, or two? When will I awaken from my lucid slumber? My will is weak and it’s drowning under.

Sometimes I think it’s my diet But I tricked myself into thinking I can’t afford healthy habits. So I sip on dreamshakes and gummy fear tablets. I climb mountains of overdue laundry for exercise. I shove my heart down boys’ throats to my demise, I let them drink my blood Hoping one day, I’ll find... the one I seem to be obsessed with matters of The 12th House. I can’t seem to shake whatever I’m thinking about. Elevation vs procrastination Perfection vs. Grit I dig inside my intestines To pull out some shit My soul is empty My mood is red The moon might as well strike me dead To the pits of hell where all we know is to feel In heaven, they have the privilege to heal Angels and ancestors cover me Although my demons and skeletons hover me As I try not to scream woe is me My water often puts out my fire The ocean usually wins The flame inside my soul is difficult for me to draw in As I rub together two sticks of wood to ignite the heat, A fire starts for just half a beat, Then it’s out, I watch the smoke, Thanks to that damn hole you poked Some days my energy feels like rain puddles on the street that collect litter, Sometimes I feel like a trash can covered in glitter I don’t know that I have what it takes to be a hard hitter But deep down I am still a winner?


Sweet Like

Honey An interview with businesswoman, Zahria Tucker By Alyssa Cuffie


AC: I’m familiar with Hair Like Honey and HNY fashion, are there any other businesses that you’ve started and what are they? ZT: Besides HNY and Hair Like Honey there’s Shade Honey... I try to incorporate “honey” in everything I do AC: Why do you incorporate Honey into everything? ZT: I affectionately called my grandmother Honey. I lost her to breast cancer but I want to keep her legacy alive. She loved God, family, hair, fashion, and enterprise. AC: She sounds like a good woman. So is that why you chose to start the types of businesses that you did? ZT: Yes! The best. I try to choose things that she was interested in but do it my own way. She loved hair so she opened a salon, I sell luxury Hair extensions. She had a boutique selling church hats and suits I have an online boutique. AC: So you're literally doing the same things she did. That’s really dope. How has it been managing college, extracurriculars and your businesses? ZT: Balancing life is so challenging for me. My studies are my #1 priority I’m also heavily involved on campus. Often times my business gets the short end of the least amount of attention. I try to take advantage of weekends & breaks. That’s when I try to do a lot to get ahead. This quarantine has left been a strange blessing in disguise. I’ve been able to rebrand and create so much content. Also, my mom helps me A LOT! AC: Would you say your businesses have been a family effort then? ZT: Not necessarily. Everyone in my family has their own business. We’re all very supportive. AC: Good! So what was the hardest part about starting up your businesses? ZT: The hardest part for me is staying constant. I get wrapped up in school and neglect my business a lot. AC: what advice would you give someone who’s

Photography by Drewzki Exposure IG: @drewzkiexposure Model Zahria Tucker IG: @getlike.zee IG: @4hnyfashion

interested in starting a business? ZT: I would tell them to go for it! Don’t be afraid to take risk because you can learn the most from your losses. But at the same time study those who’ve already done what you want to do so you can avoid some mistakes

Process I, 2019 Keyana Scott

Flowers Barricaded by Barbed Wire, 2020 Key Scott

The Beauty of Life and Death, 2020 Key Scott

Free Me, Fuck You!, 2020 Key Scott


A self reflection on her newest series, Process

Process series is about my journey so far as a self-taught artist. Earning a BA in Art History has opened my eyes about the canon of art and how rigid it can be in terms of “qualifying” artists. I believe that anyone can be an artist and I have been taking that freedom and putting it into the Process series.

Essentially, the series is my way of creating space to do whatever the fuck I want with various materials as I continue to teach myself new techniques. I have sliced a canvas and sewn it back together with plastic wire in Flowers Barricaded by Barbed Wire (2020). I have explored my curiosity and passion for collaging with Process I (2019). And I’m even working on a new piece right now that involves my hair. It’s all about the process of the creation and sometimes it even relates to the different processes in my life.

Written By Key Scott IG: @key_scottie


Poem by Taylor Thomas taylorelane.wixsite.com IG: @queent.ea 51